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Unlocking Creativity through Ikebana


calla lily, equisetum, horsetail, ikebana, vase, sogetsu, flower arranging, floral arrangement
Opposites attract, featuring calla lily and equisetum (horsetail).

Boundaries enhance creativity. Say wha'....?


We begin today with a little cognitive dissonance, that state which occurs when an assumption is challenged by unexpected information. I always thought that creativity and innovation flourished without constraints. Studies, though, show just the opposite. When a theme is introduced establishing limits and eliminating options, things begin to pop. Ikebana is a great art form for experiencing this firsthand.


I attended a workshop recently entitled Contrasting Opposites. It was just the tonic needed, while the snow continues to fall here in Bend and spring seems a distant notion. Leslie Dolin of Vermont/Montreal and Amy Stahl, who is Portland-based, hosted. Both are long-time teachers of Sogetsu ikebana.


Attendees were required to choose opposing concepts, in this case applying a constraint, and create an arrangement.





Inspired by two vases in my shop, Ikebana Dreaming on Etsy, I chose angles and curves.









The materials I then selected because they either naturally mimicked the shape of a vase, or could easily be manipulated to do so.


Calla lilies seemed ideal, as they either curve naturally or take direction well with a simple massaging of the stem.






ikebana, vase, sogetsu, flower arranging, floral arrangement
Fold between nodules to discourage breakage. If needed, insert a thin wire through stems.


With equisetum (common horsetail), I simply created triangles echoing the vase, then built a structure with them.


The end result was that, instead of feeling constrained, I experienced a profound sense of possibility. I saw that once the materials were arranged, I could set the vases near and far, frontwards, sideways, every which way, as well as introduce different colors and textures to enhance harmony overall and create different viewing experiences




So, when you're feeling lost or uninspired, embrace a theme or boundary to jumpstart your creativity. Here are a few examples:


Straight lines only

Curved lines only

All green or single tonal range

Flowers only

Branches only

Leaves only

Large w/Small

Hard w/Soft

Chaos w/Stillness

Cold w/Hot


And, most importantly keep on ikebana dreaming!


I'm gearing up for my next in-person series of lessons here in Bend, starting April 14. Watch for details in an upcoming post.





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3 Comments


albert t.
albert t.
Mar 01

even better the second time around

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albert t.
albert t.
Feb 29

lovely, inspiring words💗

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Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee
Feb 28

Gorgeous arrangement. I went back and looked at all your prior posts & arrangements as well. All of them are so beautiful and very inspirational. I can't wait until spring comes!

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